Gov't RealMe project to drop all Post Offices from February 2020

by Peter Newport - Jan 09, 2020

Yesterday Crux reported on the fact that Q'town residents have no local way to confirm their online identity using the Government's $170 million RealMe service, following the closure of the Queenstown Post Office last year.

Now, as a result of our enquiries, we have discovered that all Post Offices will be dropped by RealMe at the end of February, being replaced by AA agencies.

A RealMe account needs to be renewed with a new photo every five years.

This means that Wanaka and Cromwell residents will no longer be able to open or renew accounts with the Government's front line internet security service - instead having to rely on a visiting mobile AA agency service. In a response to Crux the Department of Internal Affairs referred to Wanaka as being amongst New Zealand's "more remote locations".

The AA website says that the AA mobile unit vists the Wanaka Hotel "the 2nd Tuesday and the Monday prior each month." Cromwell has no scheduled mobile visits according to the AA website - just a listing for an unspecified service at 2A The Mall Cromwell. Crux has asked the Department of Internal Affairs for more information.

Currently both Wanaka and Cromwell residents can access RealMe services at their local Post Shops. This story published in May 2019 by New Zealand Reseller News, highlighted the multiple problems linked to having to queue up at a Post Shop, or AA agency, to get verified.

The AA Agency in Queenstown had no definite information regarding the RealMe move yesterday. The agency sits in part of the Remarkables Pharmacy, a fact you would be challenged to discover from the AA website.

This is the AA website, which seems to indicate that the AA agency (marked as "A") is in the Harvey Norman store. It's actually in the Remarkables Pharmacy over 30 metres away.

Here's the full Department of Internal Affairs response to Crux:

"Transition to new provider for in-person services

Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs, is currently transitioning to a new provider for in-person services to assist customers applying for their RealMe verified identity.  The transition of in-person services from Kiwibank and New Zealand Post to the NZ Automobile Association (AA) is planned to be completed by 1 March 2020.

When dealing with identity information, our priority is to ensure proper privacy and security standards are in place.  The ongoing transition to the new provider reflects our commitment to getting this right, so we can ensure a nation-wide in-person service that meets digital photo standards and security and privacy requirements.

By the end of January 2020, 71 AA sites throughout the country will be providing support, plus 18 mobile sites which visit more remote locations such as Geraldine, Kaikoura, Te Anau, Twizel, Wanaka and the Great Barrier Island for scheduled visits.

Internal Affairs has a commercial arrangement with Kiwibank for in-person services that will come to an end on 29 February 2020. AA will be the sole provider of in-person services to assist customers applying for their RealMe verified identity, from 1 March 2020.

RealMe in-person service in Invercargill

Invercargill is included in the AA network rollout over the coming weeks.

Renewal and application process for a RealMe verified identity

People with a recent NZ passport can apply online for their RealMe verified identity, without the need to visit a photo store.

Internal Affairs is working on implementing an online renewal process for those whose RealMe ID is expiring or expired – currently, renewal of a RealMe ID cannot be completed in entirety online.  This programme will use existing technology to allow customers to renew verified identities without having to go to a photo shop.

Internal Affairs also has plans to extend the verified identity online application process to include all application channels for people who use documents other than an NZ passport.

RealMe photo store agents can assist customers with all verified identity applications and renewals.

Over 700,000 people have been issued with a RealMe verified identity. RealMe verified identities can be used to access 17 services online, such as student loans, enrolling to vote or opening a bank account, saving people the need to appear in person or provide documents to prove who they are.  

The funding referred to in your article includes the operation of the RealMe logon service.  The logon service can be used by people with or without a verified identity, and grants access to over 125 services. We are constantly making improvements to ensure RealMe gives users secure and easy access to the services they need."



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